Even the coronavirus crisis has not made tensions "abate" in the Indo-Pacific, and both India and France are aware of the ongoing activities in the region, French Ambassador said on Wednesday, in an oblique reference to China's muscular military deployment in the strategic waters at a time when the world is battling the pandemic.
In an interview to PTI,French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenainalso talked about the scourge of cross-border terrorism faced by India, and asserted that Pakistan must implement the action plan prescribed by global anti-terror watchdog FATF in containing the menace emanating from its soil.
"France has always supported India in combating terrorism in all its forms, including cross-border terrorism," he said, adding"We are pleased that fighting terror funding is an area in which we are working together with India."
Pakistan must pursue the implementation of the action plan of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), he said.
In February,Islamabad managed to avoid the FATF blacklisting, and was given four months extra time to implement anti-terror financing norms after the country missed multiple deadlines to comply with the recommendations of the global body, which targets money laundering, terrorist financing, and other threats to the global financial system.
Asserting that France was monitoring developments in the Indo-Pacific region, the envoy said "We have seen it over the past few weeks (that even) the pandemic hasn't made tensions abate in this region, particularly in the South China Sea."
China's aggressive military posturing is seen by many security experts as an attempt to leverage the situation caused by the pandemic to push its agenda in the Indo-Pacific particularly after the US grounded its aircraft carriers the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Theodore Roosevelt following the coronavirus outbreak.
Following China's rising military presence, the US has sent additional deployment to the South China Sea, a strategically key trade route linking Southeast Asia with
"We are actively exchanging information and analysis with India on ongoing activities in the Indo-Pacific by through the ties between our maritime information fusion centres," he said.
"We're also very pleased that India joined the Indian Ocean Commission as an observer in March this year. We are looking forward to this as an opportunity to further strengthen ties between India and CRFIM--the regional maritime information fusion centre in Madagascar," he said.
The envoy also said France can offer assistance to India in data protection which has gained in importance in the context of app-based contact tracing to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
India has launched a contact tracing app called Aarogya Setu which triggered fears of breach in privacy of citizens downloading it though the government has rejected such apprehensions.
"Our respective cyber security agencies and our ecosystems are working together. We hold discussions on our 5G policy. We could very well additionally discuss the issue of personal data protection, which has gained in importance in the context of app-based contact tracing for the pandemic," the envoy said.
He said France has a longstanding policy on the matter and it could share it as India will be passing a law on data protection.
On the comprehensive bilateral ties between India and France, he said strategic partnership is not a mere political catchword.
"The spirit of the strategic partnership is to be by India's side in very concrete ways not only in good times but also in tough times. Practically 22 years to the day, France decided to be on India's side at a critical moment. Since then, this alliance between our two countries has never wavered," he said.
"With regard to defence and security, our cooperation is expanding ambitiously," he added.
Talking about the coronavirus pandemic, he said the next area to watch out for is the "cyberspace" as it could face a major crisis.
"Cyberspace is probably the next looming crisis. The current public health crisis has revealed the magnitude of the challenges, and we wish to cooperate with India to tackle them," he added.
Asked whether a new global order will emerge in the post Covid-19 phase, he said the crisis has shown that France and India's support to multilateralism is the right option for this century.
"I am delighted that the reform of the WHO, which France encourages, has found favour in India. India and France have coordinated closely and continue to do so. However, we can do much more together. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of international cooperation on humanitarian issues," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)